Monday, March 28, 2011

ECOWAS deeply concerned about the deadlock on EPA negotiations

Calls Ivorian crisis a ‘Major threat’ to peace and security and  Renews Nigeria’s mandate as Chair

Goodluck will continue as chairman of ECOWAS if he wins April Polls
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has expressed deep concern about the deadlock in the EPA negotiations due to persistent divergences between the European Union and West African parties.
These concerns were contained in a Final Communique reached by the sub-regional economic bloc at the 39th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS held in Abuja, Nigeria from March 23-24, 2011.
As per the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Heads of State and Government affirm their common position as follows: preserve the independent resources of regional organizations by excluding ECOWAS Community Levy and the UEMOA Community Solidarity Levy from the scope of the tariff liberalization; Ensure a sustainable and gradual liberalization that safeguards the region’s tax revenue, its development capacity and avoid a reversal of the recent regional integration achievements, therefore, West Africa is ready to offer to the EU a maximum of 70 percent market opening over a period of 20 – 25 years; and ensure additional financial resources from the EU for the financing of the EPA Development Programme (EPADP).

The sub-regional economic blocs, ECOWAS also said the additionality and availability of resources should be taken into account in the text of the agreement and maintain the policy space required to promote trade with other trading partners such as South-South countries/blocs within the framework of most favoured nation clause in the EPA.
They vow to resolve the divergences in order to ensure a simple and development friendly Rules of origin which takes into consideration the different levels of development of the two parties.
Furthermore, the session agreed to defer extension of rules of origin preferences to cover Ceuta and Melilla till such time that the potential impact of such a move on West Africa could be ascertained, and avoid mechanisms that would affect regional trading relations based on unilateral political sanctions within the framework of the non execution clause.
“The Authority requested the negotiators from both regions to continue consultations in order to reach agreement on the outstanding divergences, including EU agricultural subsidies and the relationship with Turkey,” ECOWAS said in its final communiqué.
Economic performance
On the sub-region’s economic performance, the Authority commended the various measures taken by Member States to attenuate the negative effects of the 2009 global economic and financial meltdown.
While commending the economic recovery of the region, the Summit urged Member
States to continue with structural reforms for economic recovery, notably through private sector promotion, diversification of the economic fabric based on regional complementarity and increased investments in social sectors in order to achieve the
Seven percent growth rate required for the attainment of the Millennium Development Objectives (MDGs).
In addition, the Authority urged the Commission to build on the achievements made in deepening integration, particularly in priority areas such as the promotion of the private sector, enhancement of macro-economic convergence, and sectoral programmes including agriculture, infrastructure and energy.
With regards to the low resource absorptive capacity of the Commission, the Authority directed the Council to deepen discussions with the aim of finding a sustainable solution to ensure the effective implementation of Community programmes.
In the effort to assist Member States emerging from crisis, the Summit approved an emergency allocation of 30 million dollars in support of the electrification project for Conakry. The Authority also directed the ECOWAS Commission to seek additional technical and financial support from partners to meet the full financial cost of this important project.
The event, held under the Chairmanship of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, was witnessed by the presidents of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Ghana and The Gambia were represented by their Vice Presidents while Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Niger were invited as observers.

ECOWAS Authority calls Ivorian crisis a ‘Major threat’ to peace and security

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it is deeply concerned by the cycle of violence in the sub-region and the fast deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Cote d’Ivoire.
At its 39th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government held in Abuja, Nigeria from March 23-24, 2011, ECOWAS said it is considering the situation as a “major threat” to peace and security in the region, the Heads of State and Government decided to adopt urgent measures aimed at preserving life and ensuring the speedy transfer of power from the outgoing President, Mr. Laurent Gbagbo to the President elect H.E. Alassane Ouattara and pacifying the security environment.
After considering the recent developments in the peace and security situation in the region, the Heads of State and Government decided as follows: On Guinea Bissau, the Authority reaffirmed its determination to support the implementation of the Defence and Security Sector Reform Programme (SSRP), as a crucial factor in the process of socio-political stabilisation in Guinea Bissau.
In this regard, they adopted the recommendations of the 28th Session of the Mediation and Security Council and validated the joint roadmap for the implementation of the SSR. The Authority decided to allocate Community funds to the tune of 63 million dollars, to cover the priority activities of the programme particularly in the areas of: To  take-off of the pension fund and initial demobilisation, reconversion and socio-economic reintegration operations; and the deployment of a technical assistance team to strengthen and train national units in charge of protecting institutions and VIPs, contribute to protecting the National Inquiry Commission and setting up of a witness protection programme.
While directing the ECOWAS Commission to take all necessary steps to ensure the prompt implementation of this decision, the Heads of State and Government called on the International Community to continue providing support for the socio-economic development of the country, as well as the stabilisation process aimed at pacifying Guinea Bissau.
The Summit reiterates its commitment to assist Guinea Bissau in consultation with all the development partners particularly the European Union (EU).
On Guinea, the Authority hailed the successful completion of the transitional process to restore constitutional order through the conduct of credible presidential elections, culminating in the victory of Prof. Alpha Conde on 7th November 2010.
While congratulating Conde on his victory, the Heads of State and Government also paid tribute to Mr. Cellou Dalein Diallo for demonstrating exemplary statesmanship by gracefully accepting the verdict of the ballot box.
In view of the restoration of democracy, the Authority decided to lift the sanctions imposed on the Republic of Guinea, particularly with regard to its participation in all ECOWAS decision-making bodies and the arms embargo. The Authority also lauded the political maturity of the Guinean people and commended General Sekouba Konate, the Transitional President, for his commitment and exemplary leadership which contributed to the successful completion of Transition.
Furthermore, the Heads of State and Government paid glowing tribute to H.E Blaise Compaore, President of Burkina Faso and ECOWAS Mediator in Guinea, for his mediation efforts in Guinea. The Authority expressed appreciation for the role played by development partners under the umbrella of the International Contact Group in the process.
On the situation in Niger, the Heads of State and Government noted with satisfaction the successful completion of the transitional process to restore constitutional legality through the conduct of credible, transparent and peaceful presidential election. The Summit congratulated H.E Mahamadou Issoufou, the president elect and also paid homage e to Mr. Seini Oumarou for his show of political maturity in accepting the result. In view of this development, the Heads of State and Government decided to lift all sanctions imposed on the Republic of Niger in conformity with Article 45 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
The Summit commended the political maturity of the people and all the political stakeholders of Niger for their determination and commitment to the ideals of democracy. In particular, it expressed its appreciation for the role played in the process by all the institutions of the Transition including the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CRSD), the National Consultative Council and the organs responsible for the Electoral process. It singled out General Salou Djibo, President of the CSRD, for special praise for faithfully fulfilling his engagement in the process with firmness and determination.
The Heads of State and Government expressed their gratitude to General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS Mediator in Niger, for his untiring efforts throughout the mediation process.
Finally, Summit highly commended the ECOWAS Commission for its exceptional role in facilitating the restoration of constitutional order in Niger.
Deeply concerned by the cycle of violence and the fast deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Cote d’Ivoire, and considering the situation as a “major threat” to peace and security in the region, the Heads of State and Government decided to adopt urgent measures aimed at preserving life and ensuring the speedy transfer of power from the outgoing President, Mr. Laurent Gbagbo to the President elect H.E. Alassane Ouattara and pacifying the security environment.
To this end, the Summit adopted a Special Resolution A/RES.1/03/11.
Consolidation of Democracy
The Heads of State and Government noted with satisfaction the efforts by the Region in the entrenchment of democracy and commended Member States, especially Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger and Benin which, in recent months, held free and transparent elections. The Summit urged all the candidates in the Presidential election of 13 March 2011 in Benin to accept the verdict of the ballot box, and to resort only to constitutional and legal means for the resolution of any possible disputes emanating from the election.
It called on the candidates to respect the final results to be announced by the Constitutional Court. It urged Member States which will be holding elections in the future, notably Nigeria, The Gambia, Cape Verde and Liberia, to take all necessary measures to create optimal conditions for the conduct of peaceful, credible, free and transparent polls, in conformity with the relevant provisions of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.
On the situation in Libya
The Heads of State and Government affirmed their concern over the situation and commended the African Union and the United Nations Security Council for the measures so far taken to address the precarious situation. The Heads of State further urged the AU and the UN to continue their engagement until the situation is resolved definitively to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country.
The event, held under the Chairmanship of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, was witnessed by the presidents of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Ghana and The Gambia were represented by their Vice Presidents while Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Niger were invited as observers.

ECOWAS renews Nigeria’s mandate as Chair

The Sub-regional economic bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has renewed the tenure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government till December 31, 2011.
The decision was reached at its 39th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government held in Abuja, Nigeria from March 23-24, 2011. As parts of recommendations on Institutional Matters regarding the allocation of Statutory positions within the ECOWAS Institutions, the Summit decided to set up a five-member committee at the level of Heads of State and Government, made up of Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Togo, to review the modalities on the basis of alphabetical order, transparency, equity and predictability and submit their findings to the next Summit for consideration.
“The Heads of State and Government renewed the tenure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government till 31 December 2011.” They commended the pioneering role and steadfast dedication of the late General Gnassingbe Eyadema, former President of the Togolese Republic and General Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in creating and consolidating the gains of ECOWAS.
The Authority also underscored the remarkable involvement of Professor Adebayo Adedeji, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Mr. Edem Kodjo, former Prime Minister of Togo and erstwhile Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity, in the formulation of the ECOWAS Treaty.
In order to officially recognise the invaluable contribution of these eminent persons in the realisation of Community ideals, the Summit decided to present a posthumous award to the late General Gnassingbe Eyadema, former President of Togo. They also decided to award the title of “ECOWAS Roving Ambassador” to General Yakubu Gowon, former President of Nigeria, Professor Adebayo Adedeji of Nigeria, and Mr. Edem Kodjo of Togo.
This title confers on the awardees the right to participate fully in all sessions of the Authority. The Heads of State and Government paid a glowing tribute to H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the constant availability demonstrated throughout his mandate and his positive contribution to the regional integration process and the strengthening of the democratic culture in West Africa.
The Authority equally expressed its gratitude to all ECOWAS development partners for their constant support in the realisation of ECOWAS objectives and continued interest in the development of the West Africa region, as well as the consolidation of regional peace and security.
Within the framework of experience sharing, the Authority directed that the Government of Chad be invited to send its representative to the ECOWAS Commission for accreditation as permanent Representative of the Republic of Chad to ECOWAS in order to strengthen cooperation with this country in some areas relating to economic integration.
The next Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government will be held at a date to be determined in consultation with the serving Chairman of the Authority.
The event, held under the Chairmanship of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairman of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, was witnessed by the presidents of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Ghana and The Gambia were represented by their Vice Presidents while Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Niger were invited as observers.
Also in attendance was the President of the UEMOA Commission, the representative of the President of the African Union Commission, and the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation for West Africa.
Earlier on, the Heads of State and Government took note of the 2010 Annual Report of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Report of the 65th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers and Report of the 28th Ordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council.
The also adopted the major recommendations of the various reports presented and subsequently undertook a detailed analysis of  specific issues such as West African Economic Performance; Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA); Regional Peace and Security; Consolidation of Democracy; and Institutional Matters.
Vote of Thanks
The Authority of Heads of State and Government expressed their profound gratitude to H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the generous African hospitality accorded to them during their stay in Abuja. The Authority expressed its best wishes for happiness and prosperity to the Nigerian people.

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